If elected, I will pour

The Prince Of Beverages
By Greg W. Prince

@@img1 Summer was ending. It was getting late. I had switched from regular to caffeine-free, but I couldn’t sleep. Flipping around, I found what looked like a political convention. Every other channel had it. I think it was a political convention. Most of it was talking heads telling each other what people out there must be thinking of this convention. I didn’t understand. If this was a convention, why weren’t they showing it? Why were they only showing Chris Matthews yelling about it?

And why was Chris Matthews so ornery? And who was that guy challenging him to a duel? He was even more ornery.

I wanted to sleep. Maybe if I closed my eyes and let the convention coverage drone on softly in the background, maybe I could drift off.

First things got fuzzy. Then they got fizzy. Chris and his ornery panel quieted down.

Suddenly, we are in a convention hall. Maybe it’s the Fleet Center in Boston. Maybe it’s Madison Square Garden. Wherever it is, it’s packed. There are delegates and VIPs and signs and buttons and everything we associate with a political convention.

But we are not here to nominate a president. We are here to nominate.a beverage?

Ohmigosh, we are!

We’ve just seen an incredibly slick video attesting to the beverage’s strength, how it served honorably to wet so many whistles so long ago. How it stood up to those who would leave our mouths dry. How it’s a good spouse, a great parent, a friend to the thirsty, a pal to the parched.

The crowd goes wild. Actually, it seems kind of staged, but it is loud. Now at last, the beverage ascends to the podium.

The beverage speaks:

“Thank you. Thank you. I gratefully accept your nomination as your candidate for the next Beverage of the United States.

“The next time our fellow Americans pull the lever that opens the doors to their refrigerators, their vending machines and their cold vaults, they will be making arguably the most important decision of their lives.

“They must make the right one.

“There has never been a time that has called for a cold beverage as much as today. The American people deserve a beverage that is not just cold, but is chilled to perfection and tasty to the tongue.

“I will be that cold beverage.

“I will refresh.

“I will quench.

“I will pour.

“If elected, I will be a beverage that makes America proud.

“Open me, and I will sparkle when I’m supposed to, and remain still when necessary.

“Our opposition is well-intentioned, my friends. But they are flat. They are without bubbles. There is no delightful ‘pffft!’ when they open their bottles and cans.

“No ‘pffft!’ at all. Only a displeasing ‘hsssss.’

“America needs a ‘pffft!’ not a ‘hsssss.’

“America does not need a room-temperature beverage either. America cannot afford a beverage that has been left out overnight, its vital fluids warming to the point of unpalatability on the kitchen table.

“My opponent says the glass is often half-empty. I respectfully submit the American glass will always be half-full.

“With the grace of Divine Providence, maybe fuller.

“If I am elected, there will be 24 cans in every 24-pack, 67.6 ounces in every 2-liter bottle and what we don’t finish, we will reseal.

“Yes, my friends, we will reseal.

“Where some beverages list preservatives, I am natural. Where my opponent speaks of the need for additives, I am fortified.

“I have vitamins.

“I have nutrients.

“I have nine essential minerals.

“Nine essential minerals for American growth!

“In my administration, we will have the daily recommended allowance of everything twice a day.

“Our sweeteners will sweeten and our calories will remain in check.

“I do not mean to demean my opponent. I honor my opponent’s service as a beverage. I think we all do.

“But can we trust my opponent to quench the unquenchable?

“To slake the irreslakeable?

“To irrigate the throats of a great nation?

“I accept your nomination in the name of the mouths, the gullets and the esophagi that crave relief and will now, for the first time in too long a time, get it!

“Some say America’s best beverage days are behind us. The pessimists would have you believe that because we can no longer linger at the old ‘sody fountain,’ because we don’t receive twelve full ounces for a nickel, too, and because we live in a no deposit, no return society, that something is wrong.

“I say no, America. No to watery wallowing and no to juiceless accusations. There has never been a better time to be a beverage than today and tomorrow.

“We live in age of choice. We are in PET, not because we have to be but because we believe in plastic.

“We live in age of rejuvenation. The bottles we empty are the bottles we bring to the curb.

“We live in age of limitless possibility. We are supersized, we are part of every value meal and don’t let anybody tell you differently!

“No my friends, America’s best beverage days are in front of us.

“Elect me as your beverage, and we will live in one nation effervescent, with packaging and flavor for all.

“Thank you and God Bless Beverages.”

Next thing I remember were balloons. First, not very many. Then, a deluge. They were accompanied by a song. “Don’t stop drinking about tomorrow,” it may have been. Chris Matthews was calling the speech a masterpiece. “This drink really knows how to play hardball!” he shouted. Somebody tried to disagree, but Chris wouldn’t shut up. Somebody pointed out it would be hard to reseal every beverage container in America without a tax increase, but Chris wouldn’t have it. “It’s a masterstroke of beverage brilliance! Wouldn’t you agree, Ron Silver?”

Then things got less fuzzy and less fizzy. I woke up, and the convention I dreamed about had never happened. We weren’t choosing a beverage. It was a political event after all. Chris Matthews was still on, warning us there were two more months to go in the campaign.

I needed another drink.

Greg W. Prince (prince@bevnet.com) has covered the beverage business as a reporter and editor for more than 15 years.